Doge: From Meme to Currency

dogeThe Internet has a way of taking useless content viral. And, that useless viral content has the power to become incredibly successful brands. No content embodies this new reality better than memes. As a result of the explosion of memes, new brands have had the opportunity to emerge. The doge meme (which is pronounced with the same “g” sound as “luge”) started simply. On a couch in Japan, a kindergarten teacher took a picture of his shiba inu and misspelled “dog” in the caption. This dog’s sideways glance and raised eyebrows were just irresistible, and this dog went from unknown to Internet phenomenon.

Not only did this meme give us a few good laughs, the doge has grown into a brand based on the millions of Internet users that consistently post and repost images of shiba inus. By the end of 2013, doge had become currency on Bitcoin. Sure, it’s just a funny looking dog that people write funny captions for. But, the doge currency is now the single most traded Internet currency, bypassing Bitcoin and Litecoin (even at its current minimal worth of $0.0009547). Being “worthless” is just what is making the dogecoin invaluable. This coin survives purely on popularity, just like it’s meme counterpart. Dogecoin shows no signs of waning popularity, as its transaction numbers steadily climb. Dogecoins are traded daily at just under 10 million.

And, we’re not just talking in abstractions. Dogecoin is partially responsible for the Jamacian bobsled team’s trip to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The users of dogecoin came together in December and raised more than $30,000 to help the bobsled team go to Sochi. Because you can’t actually buy anything in the real OR Internet world with dogecoin, much of the currency was converted into bitcoin that was passed on to the bobsled team. Doge and other mostly Internet-based fundraising squads raised $120,000 in a few days, showing that the power of the Internet is not to be ignored.

As designers, we’re interested that the meme uses (and popularizes) the Comic Sans font. Comic Sans, as most people know, is a “joke” font. No one uses it seriously (except maybe 5-year-olds). It is the bottom of the barrel as far as typefaces go, but this meme has adopted and accepted this font as its own (and so have the fans of the doge meme). This font is so infamous that someone has gone as far as to try and recreate a font, using Comic Sans as its inspiration, for use on the meme. Why create a new Comic-Sans like font? Wasn’t it bad enough the first time? For branding purposes, of course. It was a smart move to try and get the brand to move away from a font that carries so much negativity, but the new font is on its way to being worse than Comic Sans. As they say on the Internet, #fail.

Because the doge meme has become so popular in such a short time, is to too big to have a stable identity? Will the currency soon be worthless? Even though its brand is slowly starting to take shape with the help of dogecoin, the brand runs risk of being an Internet meme bubble. We’ll just have to watch and see if doge remains as popular as Grumpy Cat.

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